Oh, What A Wonderful Thing Being A Ninja Is
July 15, 2006 - So, I learn from Michael Siegel's blog that Smokers' Rights Groups and FORCES are now "ninjas". The antis say so! As ninjas were imperial assassins with the highest warrior rank, I feel rather honoured on behalf of all. I don't mind being an assassin - if the assassination concerns the killing of superstitious hysteria, fraud and especially lies such as those recently spoken by the US Surgeon General. Less flattering, however, is the comparison between FORCES and the long-defunct National Smokers' Alliance.
Let me state, first of all, that if we had just half of the means the NSA had, a good chunk of antitobacco operatives would either be in jail already or have a very bad life indeed, and that is beyond the shade of doubt. That is because the mountain of easily-demonstrable frauds perpetrated by those criminals would not go unpunished. For the uninformed, half of the NSA budget would, to the best of my knowledge, amount to several million dollars a year.
Second, comparing FORCES to the NSA is insulting since the NSA never wanted to openly challenge the passive smoke fraud - and they certainly had the means to take gangs such as the Cancer of American Society (error intentional) to court. They could have easily defeated the antismoking cancer when it was at a much earlier stage of metastasis 10-15 years ago. But the NSA, created and financed by Philip Morris, followed the company's policy to allow the health "authorities" to scam, unopposed, the American population (and unfortunately the rest of the world).
There is more to say about this. The NSA participated to the 1997 FORCES International two-day conference in Washington, DC, as an "observer". After our statement that the only key to the defeat of antitobacco was the exposure of the passive smoke fraud the NSA actively lobbied the numerous participants from all over the world (Japan, England, Italy, Denmark and so on) against FORCES! The tobacco-financed SRGs of the time promptly obeyed, as they were headed by well-paid lackeys who thought that all it took to "fix" things was abundant PR money and a good whine. We can see the results of that stupidity today - a foolishness that still persists with the conviction by some that the epidemiological fraud is an issue secondary to other rights. As soon as Big Tobacco closed the money taps because of the Master Settlement Agreement almost all of those BS groups shut down, as the opportunists who managed them went to draw blood somewhere else.
I believe, however, that the social function of those groups was far more important than it seemed - and it wasn't at all that of defending the right to smoke. It was quite the opposite, in fact. Their function was crowd control, actuated by the tobacco industry itself. Smokers were (and are) a population mass larger than any political party and any minority. Smokers have an immense (potential) power that ranges from political to economic but - like any power - it needs to be focussed and coordinated. If smokers were to mobilize in an organised way, they could easily destabilize and flip antitobacco in a very short time (and this is true even today) - even regardless of the epidemiological frauds used against them.
So, Philip Morris and much of the tobacco industry did their "socially responsible" bit to help "public health authorities" to con the population and ensure social stability: they financed smokers' representation. The industry ended up absorbing the myriad of spontaneously emerging grass-root organizations that were popping up everywhere in the US and in the world, outraged by the perversion of liberty and science. The message of the multinationals was clear: "Look folks, we are Big Tobacco. We are rich and we are powerful. We have hooks in the corridors of power of any nation. Leave the fighting to us -- trust us: we have professionals, we know how to handle things, and we will look after you". They looked after us, alright: they concentrated on stupid lifestyle issues, cultural stuff, lavish conventions without a political focus, and on rights of assorted nature. In that way they polarized the attention of smokers who now felt represented by the "powers-that-be"; and smokers stopped organizing themselves.
But the tobacco-financed SRGs absolutely and carefully avoided the key issues: the passive smoke fraud, the institutional problem concerning the corruption of the health authorities that adopted it, and the perversion of constitutional liberties and human rights. They positively refused to educate smokers on the true state of the "science" (that science is not, but junk statistics), and they did not take the frauds to court, leaving the millions they were supposed to represent defenceless, ignorant, disorganized and especially devoid of the will to fight (this reality still persists today with the few surviving tobacco-funded SRGs, on whose websites the first things you see are pharmaceutical cessation ads and statements that you must be 18 or older to enter and read! Click here for a pathetic example; the president of this organization is "so happy she quit smoking", as smoking is really-really bad for you - but...).
FORCES was branded "extremist" and got carefully isolated because it did not go along with the deception. That crowd control manoeuvre allowed the frauds on smoking to become entrenched and a part of the culture while effectively preventing smokers from achieving a relatively easy victory. After the 1997 conference I was personally invited more than once to join those "smokers' rights" front groups - generous paycheque included, of course. There were just some "small" conditions attached, either implicitly or explicitly: you shall not expose the statistical fraud; you shall not challenge the health authorities; you shall not address the endemic institutional corruption of "public health". My reply that if I wanted to be a whore I would have been either a tobacco control operative or an operative of their organization sealed, of course, my fate with them and with their masters.
When the NSA folded in 1999 I made a point of calling the president Tom Humber on the phone at the organization's headquarters; I could hear the echo of the empty rooms. Now that it was all over, I said, perhaps we could "inherit" some of the materials the NSA had, as there was nothing to lose and we could use them. But there was nothing - no databases, no lists of members (they used to claim they had five millions), and no documents of any value. "All we have and ever had, Gian, is on our website; there is nothing else - honest", said Tom. The NSA website (of which we still have a copy, saved before it disappeared) had a few, sparse documents mostly assembled thanks to the good will of some researchers who mostly worked for free or peanuts, and motivated by ideology and by a sense of justice. I am convinced that the president - this time - was sincere. The NSA - its millions of members, its powerful organization, its skilled lobbyists in the corridors of power - was a multimillion-dollar-a-year bluff - just like the core of evidence of antitobacco is. The money all disappeared in lavish paycheques, grand lifestyles and expense accounts. Smokers got screwed all along. And the story of the NSA, although the most dramatic, is certainly not unique.
Am I ever happy that I did not take their offer! And I have to admit that I am rather proud that my integrity is not negotiable in cash or other benefits, anyway. Truth comes first. From all of this it should be quite clear how ridiculous it is to compare FORCES with the NSA, or to claim that FORCES got money from the tobacco industry. We are still here, aren't we?... But thanks again for calling us ninjas, dear "public health advocates": we are looking forward to "kill" as many of you bastards as we can.